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NH's recovery: 21,000 more jobs than in 2008

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 12. 2017 10:25PM
Dover economist Brian Gottlob 

New Hampshire had 21,000 more private-sector jobs in 2016 compared to 2008, when the Great Recession hit.

But not all counties - and industries - fared equally.

The state lost 7,837 manufacturing jobs - which pay higher than the state's average wage - during that span, according to state figures.

All 10 counties saw a decline in private employment between 2008 and 2012, but six saw growth over the next four years, according to a new state report.

Rockingham County's private employment rose by 9.7 percent between 2012 and 2016, followed by Strafford County up 7.3 percent. Hillsborough's workforce gained 7.1 percent. But Coos County lost 5.5 percent during that span.

"The Seacoast region (Rockingham and Strafford counties) had, on a percentage basis, the greatest job growth," Dover economist Brian Gottlob said in an email. "Those are also the counties that bucked the negative out-migration trends of the past decade."

Gottlob said "regions that are attractive to skilled, well-educated individuals and which are able to expand their labor force with those individuals will see the fastest growth in the coming decades."

Between 2008 and 2012, New Hampshire lost 14,505 private-sector jobs, but over the next four years, it gained 35,529 - for a net gain of 21,024 - according to a report authored by Anita Josten, a research analyst at the state Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.

The leading job category was "health care and social assistance" with 8,553 more jobs in 2016 versus 2008. That category added more than 3,500 jobs between 2008 and 2012 and about 5,000 more during the following four years.

Pay in that category averaged $1,022 per week in 2016.

The largest sector loser was manufacturing, which lost nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs between 2008 and 2012, and gained back 2,136 between 2012 and 2016, according to state figures.

The average weekly wage for manufacturing jobs in 2016 stood at $1,313, compared to $1,042 for all private sector workers, she said. The manufacturing workforce in 2016 was 68,075.

"Business investment isn't great at the moment," Gottlob said, "and as a result manufacturing hasn't grown a lot in the past year or two, but compared to the 2008 to 2012 time period it is much better and manufacturing employment rebounded somewhat."

The state's unemployment rate went from 3.9 percent in 2008 to 6.2 percent in 2009 to 2.8 percent in 2016.

Hospitals across the state saw overall job gains.

"According to the American Hospital Association Annual Survey, statewide trends have shown slight growth in health-care jobs within hospitals in New Hampshire, from 31,147 in 2008 to 32,239 in 2015," said Vanessa Stafford, director of communications for the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

Chris Steele, an economist at ITR Economics in Manchester, said the four counties that had a net loss of jobs from 2008 to 2016 were among the state's five smallest.

"This story isn't too surprising; unemployment erases many of the financial incentives to remain in your hometown and can be a catalyst for workers to seek higher paying jobs in big metro areas," Steele said. "Urban migration of labor due to large-scale unemployment is one of the major ways that economic downturns can have long-lasting effects on smaller communities, even years after the state as a whole has recovered."

Said Gottlob: "Brains are the most valuable resource in the 21st century. Skilled, well-educated individuals have the most economic opportunities and they are the most mobile members of society and where they locate will see more robust economic growth."

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